Leghorn Chicken (959 N. Western, 773-782-3936, leghornchicken.com) Prices: $6. Sure, this fast-casual spot has lots of feel-good cred (it donates to organizations supporting gay rights), but it’s the terrific housemade sauces — buttermilk rancho verde, anyone? — that top the tasty fried bird sandwiches that we can’t stop clucking about.
Honey Butter Fried Chicken (3361 N. Elston, 773-478-4000, honeybutter.com) Prices: $8-$28. You don’t have to look far as to why this Avondale spot is packing ’em in: the ingenious addition of honey butter on the already tasty fried chicken has plenty to do with it. The fact that it’s served boneless, minus the drumsticks, means it’s that much easier to eat.
Parson’s Chicken & Fish (2952 W. Armitage, 773-384-3333, parsonschickenandfish.com) Prices: $5-$24. Everyone talks (and talks) about the negroni slushy here. While we totally agree it’s worth the hype, it’s the seasoning on the fried chicken (think thyme, chili flakes, coriander) that dominates our conversation.
Crisp (2940 N. Broadway, 773-697-7610, crisponline.com) Prices: $8.95-$14.95. Long before the fried chicken craze took flight in Chicago, Lakeview’s Crisp was our go-to spot for Korean-style fried bird glazed with its subtly sweet yet kicky Seoul sassy sauce. Six years later, it still is.
Big Jones (5347 N. Clark, 773-275-5725, bigjoneschicago.com) Prices: $17-$33. When your restaurant specializes in Southern heirloom cooking, fried chicken goes with the territory. Chef Paul Fehribach follows a traditional thought process for his version, which uses house-rendered lard seasoned with a ham bone and a cornmeal dredge. We like how you think, Fehribach.
Coppervine (1962 N. Halsted, 312-935-1000, coppervinechicago.com) Prices: $25. Don’t let the chic vibe of this Lincoln Park restaurant fool you — there’s some delicious fried chicken to be found here. We can’t get enough of the bird’s uber-crispy skin with hints of cinnamon, cloves and allspice.
Pecking Order (4416 N. Clark, 773-907-9900, peckingorderchicago.com) Prices: $7.95-$18.95. An overnight marinade in a Filipino-style sauce of tamari, cane sugar, garlic and vinegar gives the fried chicken here an exotic flavor profile, while the double-dip in the fryer creates a crispy finish. Sounds like a win-win situation to us.
Endgrain (1851 W. Addison, 773-687-8191, endgrainrestaurant.com) Prices: $12-$20. It’s not easy competing with chef Enoch Simpson’s flaky biscuits at this charming North Center restaurant. Luckily both the fried chicken dinner and brunch sandwich come served with one. Smart idea.
State & Lake (201 N. State, 312-239-9400, stateandlakechicago.com) Prices: $16-$30. A lot of thought went into the prep of this Sunday-only fried chicken dinner and it shows. Besides being one juicy bird (leaving portions on the bone helps, says chef Joe Marchionna), we love that the crispy skin doesn’t fall off after the first bite — or the inevitable ones that follow.